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Importance of Camphor in Rituals

Importance of Camphor in Rituals



Aarti is one of the most important aspect of prayers in Hinduism which symbolizes the removal of darkness by true spiritual enlightenment. It is performed by lighting a ghee lamp in front of the deity while praying.

On many occasions, Hindus light a camphor or kapoor as an offering to God at the end of the aarti. Although we have probably all seen this act, many of us are not aware of the importance of this gesture.

When the camphor is lit, it burns itself out, fully evaporating until there is no residue left in the prayer utensil, leaving behind a sweet fragrance in the air instead. In the same manner, it symbolizes union with God and the promise of the devotee to burn their ego completely without leaving any residue while spreading the light of knowledge to other lives that touches theirs, no matter how brief a time. Just like the scent emanating from the camphor, the devotee, devoid of his ego and arrogance, spreads goodness around themselves.




The flame of the camphor also signifies the flame of consciousness of Lord Shiva where we can surrender all our egos to be burned under the influence of God, no longer to be seen within us. We close our eyes while performing the aarti as if to look within, to our very self or Atman. Self realization can be achieved by realizing ourselves with the flame of knowledge.

At the end of the prayer, the devotee places cupped hands over the flame and touches the eyes and top of the head, symbolizing the illumination of vision and purity of thought.

Camphor and Ayurveda

Camphor is made through an ancient Ayurvedic method by distilling the bark and wood of a coniferous tree called Camphor Laurel (Cinnamomum camphor) that is largely found in Asia, particularly in India, Sumatra, Indonesia and Borneo. White camphor is a crystalline substance with the chemical formula C10H16O, which is a fantastic anti-oxidant.

As an excellent germicide, camphor is burned to purify the atmosphere, it is also believed to remove negativity from the environment.

Absorbed through the skin, camphor produces a feeling of cooling similar to that of menthol and acts as a slight local anesthetic and anti-microbial substance. It is a decongestant and can be used as an essential oil for aromatherapy or topical application.

Used properly with medicinal understanding, it can decrease the harshness of nervous disorder as well as convulsions, epileptic episodes, nervousness, mental tension as well as chronic anxiety. It is believed to be toxic to insects and is sometimes used as a repellent and also to deter snakes and other reptiles due to its strong odor.

In this manner, camphor not only has a highly spiritual value in Hindu customs but can also be beneficial to the environment in which it is burned. Again, just like anything else, the use of camphor should be in moderation to avoid any side effects it may cause.

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12 Responses to "Importance of Camphor in Rituals"

  1. MP Udayanarayana  February 4, 2015 at 5:00 am

    Campher- Wonderful Information Thank YOU Bye

    Reply
  2. Kiran Salunkhe  March 17, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    Sanskriti Magazine is doing a wonderful job of explaining Hinduism and the scientific reasons for doing the rituals, Three cheers Guys !!!

    Reply
  3. Virinder Kishen Kandhari  June 2, 2015 at 7:49 am

    An excellent attempt to take us to roots. for Kashmiri Pandits it is all the more important. we are in exile we will lose our roots more quickly as we are not religious people but only show it off. We feel ashamed to have tilak on our forehead rather clean it before bowing to a muslim officer to have even a petty gain.Perhaps this was the reason why many Kashmiri Pundits who manipulate their rise in various dispensation since popular Governments were formed or even earlier ( the so called struggle period) were given special addition to their name as ” Musalman”. However, unfortunately those of them who are dead could be written epitaph since they have no tombs for the purpose. Being rational, fair and reasonable to reality gives no reason for these sycophants dead or alive to discriminate against their community that could put even Nadir Shah shame.

    Reply
  4. Arunachalam  June 19, 2015 at 10:09 am

    If this be so safe, then why in many temples in tamilandu burning of camphor is prohiited and only oil lamp is used in mangala aarti

    Reply
  5. Sree Nair  September 2, 2015 at 4:50 am

    A few years back a team from a US university conducted a study in Tamil Nadu temples to find out health hazards of pujaris who sit in closed “Sreekovil” (sanctum sanctorums) which has no ventilation at all. Surely the side effects of camphor and the fumes from oil lamps may have been a part of the study. The results are not known however.. it seems no one bothered to check either. Now Mr. Arunachalam writes in many temples Camphor lighting is banned in TN I do not know if this is the effect of that study… OR were there any other motive for that study ?

    Reply
  6. Anand Kumar  December 24, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    Can you explain how does camphor remove ego and arrogance? If you look at the intolerance and abuses you see in the society, they come mostly from those who burn lot of camphor (the religious people). Why camphor does not work in the case of these religion bigots?

    Reply
    • Mithun shah  October 20, 2016 at 1:53 am

      All that rituals has to be learnt and then the bhaav in the mind is to created while doing the kriya. Doing the kriya alone is not going to work but that does not mean we have to leave the kriya part. So those who do rituals should be respected and if they are not leaving their ego then they they should be reminded that your actions should change as you are performing a very sacred ritual.
      You cannot blame the whole society for some few who are intolerant. Intolerance comes from the facts and incidences of what happened in history and what is seen today so even they shoild not be blaned. Do you blame the allopthy system, education system etc despite of the fact that teachers are mostly not doing their job and almost all doctors loot you and they have become agents of drug companies.

      Reply
  7. Swathy Arun  April 26, 2016 at 6:21 pm

    Camphor that is sold in most of the Indian stores and market are synthetic camphor . The real one you can find in an Ayurvedic store, which is used in ayurvedic preparations in India . I get mine ordered online the real cinnamonium camphora. The synthetic camphor cause chronic health diseases.

    Reply
  8. Alagasen  May 31, 2016 at 11:24 am

    Great

    Reply
  9. Uday Singh  July 24, 2016 at 3:04 pm

    I am a from Western part of India. Whenever I visit temples in South India we are often given some tirtha as prasadam (holy water prasadam) which also smells like camphor, basil and turmeric. I often wonder what are the ingredients of such tirtha, do they have some medicinal properties and purpose? Again, South Indians have very clear voice in comparision, often no hoarseness in sound, with high pitch, especially Malayali people, what is the secret of such a clear throat?

    Reply
  10. Mona  August 14, 2016 at 3:27 pm

    Thank you

    Reply
  11. Mithun shah  October 20, 2016 at 1:57 am

    Namaste sir
    Very good information
    A small correction is that most of the camphor ( i would say all) available is synthetic which is probably carcenogenic. So alongwith the article can u add this and also urge people to find natural camphor and use it ? It is very much available in a store in ahemdabad ARYA SANSKRITI. Mobile- 7227999001

    Reply

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